Guest Post: Produce Shopping 101 with Michelle Hoblit

There is no better way to purchase produce in Boston than to trek down to Haymarket on a Friday or Saturday (when there isn’t snow on the ground). Having done this twice now, it is apparent it is the best way to go to get fresh veggies.  The first weekend of the semester, my roommates and I happened to stumble into the sale on our way to get cannoli.  Going back to the T, I decided zucchini, green peppers, and yellow squash each three for $1 could not be beat.  The best deal, though, was a box of mangoes (nine mangoes!) for only $2.  Having a newly acquired ginormous box of mangoes, all of varying degrees of ripeness, the unripe were cut and placed into the freezer for future smoothies.  The three-week-old frozen mangoes prompted my visit to Haymarket today.

Mango smoothies were the inspiration for my apartment to have a taco night.  Taco night has a variety of produce needs, in itself, from tomatoes for fresh salsa to avocados for guacamole, and even limes for a thematic garnish.  In addition to all those needs, my roommates all had requests of their own.  I was asked to buy oranges, peaches, bananas — where some were still green and some more yellow than others and some with green on top, and strawberries – if they looked good. The produce at Haymarket never looks anything less than good.  I fulfilled all of my 6-person apartment produce requests, down to the specific banana order, plus some, for $12.  I was astounded.  One of my roommates, in their astonished state of disbelief, used Instagram to document the mountain of produce on our counter, and used the hashtag “#GoMichelle”, which I’m totally not opposed to.

haymarket produce

*Photo credit to Rachel Roberie

The key to getting the best deals is to take your time, and walk through all the stands before you purchase anything.  Keep in mind what you need and what you want, and sort of make a mental note of which stands have the best prices.  A lot of the time, the prices are all very similar, but occasionally one stand will have a better deal than all the rest.  Ask the vendor if you can pick your own produce, otherwise it will be drawn from a box behind the counter, where you can’t see which one is going into your plastic bag.  Today, many stands were offering limes eight for $1, but one stand offered them ten for $1.  On the down side of the lower price, I didn’t get to choose my own limes, but they all looked very good when I spilled them onto the kitchen counter.  Only one stand was offering romaine lettuce, and if I was hurried and didn’t spend the time to look at all of the stands I probably would have missed it.  The best deals also change from week to week.  This week, a $2 box of mangoes was unheard of, and the best deal I got was three yellow (sometimes called honey or champagne) mangoes for $1.

haymarket map

The produce market is highlighted in yellow, and is only a short walk from the T.  Haymarket station serves both the Green and Orange lines of the T, making it convenient to campus wherever you live.  Haymarket is also close to the North End, so if you can’t imagine spending $4 round-trip on the T for discounted produce, you can also get a cannoli or lunch while you’re out.

After carrying the six bags of produce to my apartment, I realized the biggest key to success at Haymarket is to either bring a friend or a shopping cart!

-Michelle

Michelle Hoblit is a second year health science major, with minors in mathematics and urban studies, from Raleigh, NC.  She enjoys marketing and using social media to promote events on and around campus.  Michelle is on the executive board of the Health Disparities Student Collaborative, where she works to connect students with events on campus and in the city to attend as well as coordinating volunteer opportunity for the Collaborative’s members.  In her free time, Michelle loves to explore Boston and find fun (and often free) things to do with friends. 

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